'How can you sleep?': Text messages between Chris and Shanann Watts' reveal their marriage was in danger of collapsing days before gruesome murders
The Weld County released 2,000 pages of documents about the case including text messages between the Watts couple and an interview with Chris's mistress, Nichol Kessinger
Investigative documents in the Chris Watts case have finally shed light on the possible motives for the Colorado man murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters.
Chistopher Lee Watts, 33, was sentenced on November 19 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders of wife Shanann, daughters Bella and Celeste, and unborn son Nico.
Watts pleaded guilty to strangling his family to death on August 12 night in their home in Frederick, Colorado.
CBS News has revealed more than 2,000 pages of documents about the grisly case from the Weld County District Attorney's Office which were released to them through a public records request.
The documents include shocking text messages between Watts and Shanann discussing their failing marriage, and an interview with Nichol Kessinger, Watts' alleged mistress.
The investigators wrote in the document that Kessinger told them that Watts and Shanann "did not get along well and their financial life was also troubling."
The report also said: "She said Chris was struggling with finances and now he had a third kid on the way and she does not know if he could afford another kid. Shanann was not responsive to this financial trouble. Nichol said Chris always told her he wanted a third child and wanted a boy."
The mistress is said to have told investigators that the affair didn't drive Watts to murder his family but it may have "accelerated the process".
She told investigators that "money is the biggest catalyst for this event happening." Prosecutors have disagreed, however, saying in court that the motive behind the heinous crimes was that Watts had a desire to start a new life with Kessinger, with whom he was involved for two months by the time of the murders.
However, the report also included a Facebook post dating from June 11, where Shanann recorded the moment when she revealed to Watts that she was pregnant for the third time.
The footage seemed normal and didn't show that the relationship was having problems.
Investigators wrote in the report: "Shanann began filming in the kitchen of 2825 Saratoga Trail. she stepped in front of the camera briefly to show off her shirt with the embossed words, 'Oops… we did it again'."
The report continues: "When she stepped out of the camera's view Dieter (the family dog) ran off to welcome Watts entering the home. As Watts walked into the kitchen, he halted mid stride and stared in Shanann's direction. His confused expression transformed into a grin and he walked to her saying, 'We did it again'. When Watts returned in view of the camera he is holding a pregnancy test and they discuss the positive result. Watts leaned in, kissed Shanann and, with a large grin, says, 'l guess when you want to, it happens – Wow'."
Kessinger also told the authorities that Watts was financially a mess and that she didn't know if he would have been able to afford another child.
Shanann travelled to North Carolina with the couples' daughters for a six-week trip to visit Watts' parents, just after a visit to her own parents in late June.
Watts was with them for only a week on this entire trip. The text messages that were shared between Watts and Shanann over the rest of the weeks showed that Shanann did not have a good relationship with her in-laws.
Summarizing the messages, the investigators wrote in the report: "Shanann discussed how Watts' mother gave Celeste ice cream with nuts in the ingredients. Shanann felt this was done in defiance of Shanann's warnings of Celeste's food allergies."
The report continued: "Shanann told Watts, 'You should call your dad and tell him you did not appreciate your mom putting your daughter at risk today, nor do you like that she teased our girls'. 'You should also say you don't appreciate her saying they have to learn they can't always get what they want! (Referring to ice cream) they are 2 and 4!'"
The couple had been apart for almost a month at this point with Shanann and the children having been in North Carolina visiting Watts' parents, Shanann texted Watts at 6:02 pm: "l realized during this trip what's missing in our relationship! lt's only one way emotions and feelings. I can't come back like this. I need you to meet me halfway. You don't consider others at all, nor think about others feelings."
Watts replied saying that he was sorry and that he loved her.
Shanann responded by saying: "l try to give you space, but while you are working and living the bachelor life l'm carrying our 3rd and fighting with our two kids daily and trying to work and make money. lt's not hard texting love you and miss you. lf you don't mean it then I get it, but we need to talk. I kept looking at my phone all night and no response from you. Like seriously! We didn't just start dating yesterday! We've been together 8 years and have 2.5 kids together."
Only two days before the expectant mother and her two daughters were supposed to return home to Colorado, her messages to Watts started indicating that everything was not well with the marriage. Shanann texted her husband at 10:34 pm: "Being away from you, it's not the help I missed because I handle that. lt was exhausting, but with school that's not hard. I missed the smell of you, you touching me when l'm cooking, you touching me in bed, you touching me period!"
She continues: "I missed holding you and snuggling with you. I missed eating with you, watching tv with you. I missed staring at you, I missed making love with you. I missed everything about you. I couldn't wait to touch you, hold you, kiss you, make love to you, smell you, laugh with you. I couldn't wait to celebrate 8 years with you… lf you are done, don't love me, don't want to work this out, not happy anymore and only staying because of kids, I NEED you to tell me."
Shanann asked Watts at 11:00 pm: "Would you stay with me if we didn't have kids?" She texts him at 11:09 pm: "l just don't get it. You don't fall out of love in 5 weeks." A few minutes later she wrote: "How can you sleep? Our marriage is crumbling in front of us and you can sleep."
August 7 to 12 - The murders
Shanann and the children returned to their home in Colorado on August 7. Her last post on Facebook was at about 4:30 pm. on August 9. The next day, Shanann went to Scottsdale, Arizona, for a work event and she left the children behind with their father. A photo taken by a colleague shows her at Yard House in Scottsdale on August 11. She was back in Colorado on August 12.
The murders are said to have occurred late on August 12 night or early on August 13 morning which is just within hours of Shanann getting back home from Arizona. Watts reportedly wrapped Shanann's body in a sheet and buried her in a shallow grave on the property where investigators say he used to work.
The report says: "During a respite following the murder of his family, and disposing of their bodies at a desolate well site, Watts searched Google for the lyrics to 'Battery' by Metallica."
Lyrics for the song include the lines: "lunacy has found me – Cannot stop the battery – Pounding out aggression – Turns into obsession – Cannot kill the battery – Cannot kill the family." On August 14, Watts gave television interviews that were aired across the country where he pleaded for the safe return of his family.
Hours before allegedly confessing to the murders of his missing pregnant wife and their two young daughters, Chris Watts gave a series of chilling TV interviews pleading for the trio’s safe return https://t.co/UnZLtszO2v #truecrime pic.twitter.com/FUwdqntIms— The Courier-Mail (@couriermail) August 18, 2018
The Frederick Police put Watts through a polygraph test. The investigators claim that Watts appeared for the test in loose clothing and was not wearing his wedding ring. The polygraph test indicated that he was lying and the tester confronted the triple murderer with the deception. After he had a long conversation, he admitted to killing his wife but kept insisting that she was the one who killed the children. He also admitted that he put the bodies of the girls in oil tanks.
The bodies of Bella and Celeste were found in an oil tank close to their mother's grave on August 15. The report also goes into disturbing details of how the bodies of the children were recovered from the oil tank. Watts was subsequently arrested and charged with all three murders.
The investigators looked through Kessinger's phone, the woman who was having an affair with Watts. They found searches for explicit videos and sex positions as well as "hours worth of searches for Shanann Watts."
After the murders took place, authorities said that Kessinger searched for "can cops trace text messages", and made many searches for Amber Frey, the woman who was the mistress of convicted murderer Scott Peterson.
Kessinger had also searched whether "people hate Amber Frey" and also researched the other mistress' book deal.
Ronnie Watts, the triple murderer's father, told the authorities that his son had described "Shanann as controlling, narcissistic and possible bi-polar", even though he had never himself witnessed any verbal or physical altercation between the two.
Watts accepted a plea deal earlier in November in order to avoid facing the death penalty. He was subsequently sentenced to three life terms in prison, without any possibility of parole.